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Baby Led Weaning vs Purees — Which Should I Choose?

Ever wonder which way is best to feed your baby? What are the benefits of Baby Led Weaning vs. purees? Find out which method is best for your family to use and why!

Baby Led Weaning vs. purees: baby being spoon fed in high chair

Should I Do Baby Led Weaning or Purees?

Your baby is finally showing signs of readiness to start solid food! But where do you start? Should you spoon feed purees or go the Baby Led Weaning route?

These two well-known methods for feeding infants include a traditional approach—spoon feeding your baby pureed foods while the other method is relatively new but continues to increase in popularity with parents. This method is called baby led weaning (BLW). 

Many parents decide to feed their infant using one of these two methods, usually because of their own knowledge of the methods and what they are comfortable with.

Personally, our family loved using BLW method to feed our daughter, but both methods have pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both methods.

baby led weaning vs purees: baby eating broccoli

Baby Led Weaning Pros and Cons

First up, let’s take a look at what is baby led weaning?

Baby led weaning (abbreviated as BLW) is a way for infants to feed themselves solid foods, as opposed to a caregiver spoon feeding them.

You give baby fry-shaped soft-ish foods that baby gums and feeds themself.

There are plenty of positive benefits and potential negatives that come from baby led weaning. The benefits of baby led weaning include:

Exposure to a Variety of Foods and Textures

BLW encourages parents to feed their baby similar foods that the rest of the family are eating. This means that your baby will get a wider variety of foods and textures than just pureed baby foods.

Jarred baby foods typically only come in a few varieties, so using BLW can really diversify your baby’s options. There are so many great baby led weaning first foods to start your BLW infant on!

baby led weaning vs purees - high chair tray with a varity of finger foods

Continues Intuitive Eating

Using the BLW method allows for your baby to keep their natural instinct to eat when hungry and stop when full. Babies are born with this ability to know their own hunger and fullness cues.

Unfortunately, through well-meaning adult interference, we can often unintentionally cause them to decrease their intuitive eating skills. 

Saves Time and Money

BLW allows families to not to spend money or time buying or preparing pureed baby foods. You can give your baby what the rest of the family is eating, with some minor adjustments depending on the food.

Eat with the Family

It’s so much easier to eat at the same time as your baby when they are able to be in control of feeding themselves.

This allows for everyone to get fed and for your baby to be part of the developmentally important family meal. (Check out the best highchairs for BLW here!)

baby led weaning vs purees: baby eating spaghetti in high chair

Baby Led Weaning Cons

While BLW may seem amazing, it can have some drawbacks. Take a look at these potential cons before you decide what’s best for your baby.

The Mess!

Baby led weaning is definitely messy! While your baby is exploring and learning about the food you give them, they can make a great big mess all over their high chair and self!

You May Not Know How Much Baby is Eating

It can be harder to know exactly how much food your infant is eating when using BLW. Food doesn’t always go directly into their mouth, so this can be a concern for some parents.

Fear of Choking

This is a common reason that people have in opposition to BLW. While choking risks are present in all babies, BLW hasn’t been shown to increase the risks of choking incidents. Still, many parents are concerned about giving their baby larger chunks of food.

More Food Waste

As your baby is exploring and making a mess with food, there may be more food that is wasted. But is a learning opportunity ever a waste?

Support from Others

Depending on the support you have around you, this might be a bigger deal to some parents than others. Many people just don’t know enough about BLW to support you as you feed your baby. It can seem so different than what they did for their own baby. 

Our parents needed a bit of education before they truly felt comfortable doing BLW when they were watching our daughter.

Baby boy sitting in a high chair, enjoying feeding himself rice.

Puree Feeding Pros and Cons

You might be thinking, BLW sounds great! Why would anyone consider any other way to feed? Well, feeding your infant purees can have some benefits as well. These include:

Less Mess

Babies are messy, and not just when they are eating. Sometimes having a cleaner way (like spoon feeding your infant) to feed your baby just needs to happen for sanity.

Higher Level of Parental Involvement

It is much easier to be in control of what your baby is eating if the parent is directly feeding it to them. For many parents this might be a reason to choose pureed foods.

Easy to tell How Much Baby is Eating

We as parents often question just about everything we do. Not knowing an exact amount of food that our baby is eating can be stressful. Using purees can help ease any fears or concerns about your baby not eating enough.

Baby being spoon fed pureed baby food.

Puree Cons

Of course, there are some negative aspects to feeding purees as well. Take a look: 

Lack of Texture and Variety of Food

Pureed foods lack variety in the consistency of the foods. While this may be ok for a short time, babies need to be exposed to different textures to be able to grow their oral motor skills and tastes.

Easy to Disregard Baby’s Fullness Cues

When a parent is spoon feeding an infant, it is really easy for the parent to feed past the infant’s fullness. Whether not knowing the signs or just having an expectation of how much the baby should eat, we often overfeed babies.

baby led weaning vs purees: baby being spoon fed

Can you Mix Purees and Baby Led Weaning?

While our society often gets locked into an either “this of that” mentality, feeding your baby does NOT have to be one way or the other. It doesn’t have to be baby led weaning vs. purees.

You can choose to use both methods simultaneously. In fact, using both may provide for the most variety of foods and textures. 

Some reasons you may want to consider both feeding methods include:

Easier for Caregivers

If you’re not familiar with BLW or uncomfortable with it, you can still take care of your baby and use purees and solid foods.

You might just want the reassurance that your baby is eating a certain amount of measured food each day.

On-the-go Ease

Jarred baby foods and pouches are easy to take with you while you’re out on a playdate or on vacation.

Flexibility

Doing both methods can provide your family with the most flexibility and ability to adapt as your life needs to.

There is no one right way. Your family may choose to start with purees and then add in BLW. Or maybe you skip purees altogether, like our family did, and go straight to BLW.

Whichever you decide, your baby can and will learn to eat solids. Good luck mamas and dadas! 

Amy Motroni